Daily Mail Weekend Magazine - - ANTIQUES ROADSHOW / GOLDEN MOMENTS -

The owl was brought to the An­tiques Road­show on the bus, went home in a taxi and has since be­come one of the pro­gramme’s most fa­mous finds.

The owner ar­rived with it at Northamp­ton’s Dern­gate Cen­tre in 1989 and couldn’t re­mem­ber how it had come into the fam­ily, only that it had been there for years. It had often been used with­out its de­tach­able head as a flower vase.

But as soon as he saw it, and recog­nised it as be­ing from the late

17th or early 18th cen­tury, ex­pert Henry San­don (pic­tured) could barely con­tain his ex­cite­ment. ‘Sur­viv­ing pieces of Stafford­shire slip­ware are rare and de­sir­able. This lit­tle drink­ing pot – the body would have been used as a jug and the head as a cup – is in feath­ered slip­ware, which is even rarer.’

The dec­o­ra­tion was pro­duced us­ing slip, or liq­uid clay, which was poured on in a sim­i­lar way to cake ic­ing and given a mar­bled ef­fect with a comb.

Clutch­ing the owl to his chest, Henry said that he had never han­dled one be­fore. In fact, he seemed quite re­luc­tant to give it back to the owner.

In­creas­ingly be­mused, the owner was vis­i­bly shocked as he steadily in­creased the value from £500 to £20,000. ‘Well, I never’ was her only re­sponse. Af­ter film­ing, she took the owl home in a taxi, along with two po­lice­men – much to the con­ster­na­tion of her mother when she opened the front door.

VAL­UED AT: £20,000.

CUR­RENTLY: Sold at Lon­don’s Phillips auc­tion house for £ 22,000 to an agent act­ing for the Pot­ter­ies Mu­seum in Stoke- on-Trent. So the owl has re­turned home and, now known as Ozzy, lives in a spe­cial case in the mu­seum, not far from where he was made in the late 17th cen­tury. The for­mer owner used the money to help sup­port five or­phans in var­i­ous parts of the world.

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